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John Bonham

JB's Grateful Dead corner

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On December 4, 1965, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, and Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan first convened as the Grateful Dead.

They played as the house band for Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster's Acid Test at Big Nig's house in San Jose, California.

Happy 50th birthday, Grateful Dead.

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JB, have you attended the Fare Thee Well? If you did, how was it? If not, why not?

I did not attend.

I am happy for my friends who went and had an amazing time.

For me, it's just a Dead cover band without Jerry Garcia.

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JB, would you mind putting together a little background narrative telling us why you love these guys so much? I can never get past how it sounds like I'm back in boarding school and I'm walking past the hippies' room-- or into the hippies' rooms if I'm out of weed.
 
How did you get into them? What do you love about them? Why are you still into them?
 
:)


When I first heard them, they sounded like bad country music to me.


Later on, when I was a teenager, my mom let this neighborhood girl live with us after her boyfriend threw her and all her stuff out.
She used to stay up and watch Headbangers' Ball with me.
We would drink beer and smoke pot, and she would make jewelry.
She made me the Jim Morrison necklace.

 

We would listen to Jerry Garcia play lead guitar on Dark Star (Live/Dead, 1969), and music from all the other officially released live albums:
China Cat Sunflower / I Know You Rider from Europe '72
St. Stephen from Live/Dead
Not Fade Away / Goin' Down the Road from their '71 live album, and
Fire on the Mountain from Dead Set.

 

They are guitar-driven rock.
What's not to like?

 

2 guitarists, a bass player, drums, and various keyboard configurations.

 

They had the most diverse audience. When I saw them at Highgate, Vermont in the '90s, there were 4 generations of fans there.
Babies, toddlers, kids, teens, young adults, college kids, all the way up to really old people in their 60s.
You don't see that with many other artists, not even Elvis.
And fans from all over the USA.
There were Country & Western fans, EDM fans, shit-rockers, hippies, punks, etc. they were all there to hear what Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead would play that night.
It was like a big, cosmic drive-in movie.
There was lots of good drugs, and lots of easy sex.

 

We are lucky that so many recordings of their live shows are available.
Thousands of them.

 

They had a bunch of lineup changes, label changes, and style changes.
Grateful Dead music from 1965-1995 is a History of musical styles from jug-band to blues to rock to country to electronica to world music, and beyond.

 

I genuinely love Garcia's spirit and muse, and his chops.
He has a sweet singing voice, he is a beautifully soulful and fluid lead guitarist, and he was incredibly prolific.
Jerry Garcia is my favorite lead guitarist.
He has a tone and sensibility similair to David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, but he is a better improviser.
He had a spirit and humor that radiated, and I genuinely relate to the lyrics he sang, wich were good poetry: graceful metaphors, and clever allusions.
The Dead put out at least one album a year, sometimes more, and then there were all the various Jerry Garica side project releases.

 

A Grateful Dead show had rock and country music, and avant garde music, world music, electronica, and the delights of uncertainty.
They never played the same show twice.
It was live.
It was electric.
And the shows were completely different every night.

 

Half the people there were tripping or on ecstasy.
There was, on a good night, an effervessence, a bubbling-over, a psychopomp, where everyone got off at the same time.

 

I have been listening to this band for more than half my life, and there have been times when I tired of them, but there is always another show to listen to, and they are all different.

 

A typical Dead show starts like a regular Rock concert, with some Chuck Berry style Classic Rock. Then they would delve into some old Mississippi-stly blues. Then some Country music. Then some Bob Dylan.
Finally, they would start to get weird with some longer, more jam-oriented stuff. They would stretch out a little. Then it was another quick Rocker and they would take a 30-45 minute break.

 

The intermission was real. No one was looking at a cell phone back then. We smoked joints and talked to each other.

 

The lights would go down and the Second Set would begin.

 

In the '80s and '90s, the Second Set was usually one big 90-minute jam consisting of about 10 or so songs.
They would vamp out for 20 minutes or so to benefit all the folks on ecstasy and acid, and play long guitar solos and percussive jams.
Eventually, most of the group would drift off the stage, and the drummers would do their Rhythm Devils duet thing for 10-15 minutes.
The "drums" segment always delivered.
It was the most avant garde music of the night. Guaranteed.
They mixed World Music and EDM together with vintage percussion instruments from around the globe and state-of-the-art computers and technology to create a crazy music  that was the furthest thing from a typical rock drum solo that you can imagine.

 

Then the drummers would leave the stage to go snort coke or whatever they did, and the guitarists would re-emerge.
They would play trippy, scary Halloween space music for about 10 minutes until the drummers returned.
It was a hallucination engine.
Then the whole band would rock out for a few more songs.
Jerry would sing his sweetest ballad of the night, and then Bob Weir would close-out the show with a good, old-fashioned rocker or two.

 

Still not sick of them. 
Still haven't listened to all 2300 concerts.

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Today is the anniversary of my favorite Grateful Dead show - 2/11/70 with Duane Allman at the Fillmore East in New York.

Listening this AM with my coffee.

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DV_XgRzV4AA5oNW.jpg

Just in case anyone wants to talk Grateful Dead...

 

I am in the middle of a project to listen to every show they played in 1974.

'74 is a pretty great year for the GD, and they only played 40 shows that year.

 

I had already heard quite a big chunk of '74, so I thought I would connect the dots.

I am listening to every note they played, in order, in 30-minute chunks, and checking in a couple times a day.

Basically, back and forth during my commute to work.

I have a premium sound system in my car, and I am listening to CDs I burned myself from soundboard recordings of the shows.

 

Right now, I am on show #13 out of 40.

I have been taking notes.

It's a long-term project.

I started about 7 weeks ago.

 

For an encore, I am going to listen to all 4 shows they played in 1975.

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I tried many times to get into them, and never could.  Just not my thing.

 

But damn, do I respect the hell out of that project!  That's the kind of obsessive fan I am with the stuff I am passionate about.  Very cool.

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I know that nobody reads this thread, but I like posting in it anyway.

 

The very BEST shows that the Grateful Dead ever played were at the Fillmore East in New York City.

They played there 39 times from June 14, 1968 to April 29, 1971.

 

This is right in the middle of the band's most powerful era, and there was something about the crowd at the Fillmore East that inspired the Grateful Dead to play their very best shows.

 

Of those 39 shows, these are the very best of the best.

 

2-11-70

2-13-70

2-14-70

5-15-70

9-19-70

9-20-70

4-28-71

4-29-71

 

Also, the recording are great! Taped by Owsley "Bear" Stanley, their sound guy, who was also their patron, and who helped to shape the Garetful Dead as the house band for his acid tests. Owsley was a chemist and synthesized LSD. He provided the drug for the band and the crowd and the Dead played the music.

His taping techniques were unorthodox. In my opinion, they resulted in really good tapes. Check out the mix on the 2-11-70 show.

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Giving a listen to the 2-11-70 rendition of the only Dead song I truly and thoroughly love...

 

"Well the first days are the hardest days........"

 

(damn that was just plain fucking lovely.....the dynamics and harmonies of their voices.....goosebumps!!)

Edited by EstrangedTWAT

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